How to Network Like a Pro in 2024

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Networking looks different this year than at any other time in the history of the business universe. We can engage in new business relationships with the push of a button. From joining MeetUps to engaging in social audio to live streaming, we, as entrepreneurs, can build our online reputation with little effort. Networking in 2024 will be efficient and modernized — yet it will remain the same. We must understand where powerful connections lie and how to present ourselves in a digital world.

While the platforms differ, connection and engagement are crucial to growing a business. While new tools and technology are being lobbed at us left and right, the truth is the most powerful thing we have as business owners is building relationships that matter.

Related: 8 Tips Introverts Need to Start Networking Like a Pro

Building relationships on social media

I know I may receive kickback for this next comment, but, in my opinion, the past decade has been seeped in a collective attempt to brainwash us. We are fed the notion that social media is the way to make it big in business. Social media is the lowest-hanging fruit for most of our competitors. Social media provides democratized access to potential audiences. The problem is that you have to pay to play in most situations. These platforms’ algorithms do not allow average businesses to get in front of their desired avatar unless they invest money.

Think about the last time you spent money directly from a post on social media. What were the factors that led you to make the purchase?

In most cases, it was because of one of the following factors:

  • You were referred to the product or service,
  • You knew the service provider or product provider personally,
  • You engaged in an impulsive buy,
  • You follow and respect an influencer marketer,
  • You were transfixed by the repetition of paid ads and testimonials.

While social media is necessary, it cannot be your only connection to a potential networking opportunity. Social media is a powerful tool to build your overall brand reputation because it offers a high domain authority. However, you do not own any of the content that you post on any of the sites like Instagram, Facebook, X (Twitter), LinkedIn or TikTok. If social media is the cornerstone of your business growth strategy, you must focus on engagement. Without authentic communication and engagement, social media is an exercise in futility.

Related: Unlocking the Power of LinkedIn: How Entrepreneurs Can Leverage the Platform for Growth and Success

The networking pitch

Do you know how to articulate your brand, product or service in two sentences? Would the sharks on Shark Tank invest millions of dollars in your idea? Before you walk into any networking space, be confident you can answer this question, “What do you do?” This open-ended question is the typical icebreaker in any networking situation. If you cannot answer this question, ask yourself this:

  • What product or service do you offer?
  • How are you different than anyone else?
  • What problem do you solve?

Networking is a personal exercise in sharing your stories and ideas and active listening with a dash of vulnerability. There is nothing as offputting as someone who walks into a room, pitches their brand, and is on to the next person. The opposite approach, which offers value at a networking event, can create more business opportunities. When we expect immediate returns in a networking conversation, our expectations will not be met.

In 2024, digital networking will be essential to any networking strategy. Your best qualities must be transmuted on video, and you confidently present yourself. Optics are everything. Understand that your body language is everything. Arms crossed, it suggests that you are closed off to ideas. Eyes looking left and downward suggest you are sharing untruths.

Related: How to Tell If Someone Is Manipulating You Based on Their Body Language

My go-to platform for online networking is MeetUp. Meet-ups have been around for a long time, and many businesses have been built on the power of consistent, interactive meetings. Chirs Krimitsos, the founder of Podfest, a conference for Podcasters, began his business at a local Denny’s in Florida. He met with podcast enthusiasts on a regular basis, and now his business and conference are two of the largest in the country. The one thing I love about holding MeetUp is that the platform does all the marketing for me. When I schedule a meeting, the MeetUp platform algorithms promote my events and send participants my way.

Live networking

The power of live networking events is super powerful. The post-pandemic has left a large section of business people hungry for more face-to-face interaction. This year, I scoured the internet for conferences in which I could create powerful connections. VeeCon, the annual conference hosted by Gary Vaynerchuk, was oozing with entrepreneurs and creatives who were hungry for the handshake. I left that conference with a dozen powerful connections that grew into collaborations and partnerships.

Carve out a budget to attend a live conference in 2024. Or better yet, start your live networking event. You can network wherever you go. The library is a great place to offer value or start your own networking event. Create your own live MeetUp, and find a local venue to meet and greet. The options are endless — and the rewards are exponential.

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